Grace and Hope IN THE BIBLe
THE GOSPELS: Matthew Mark Luke John
Anne Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;BrieN Bible Studies on Grace and Hope in The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
GRACE AND HOPE in THE GOSPELS Matthew – Jesus shows us grace through his teachings Mark – Jesus shows us grace through his actions Luke – Jesus shows us grace through the parables John – Jesus shows us grace through the Cross. ______________________________________________
MATTHEW When considering the teachings of Jesus on grace, where better to look than The Sermon on the Mount, and the Beatitudes. Read Matthew chapter 5v1-12. “Blessed are the poor in spirit” – The Hebrew use of the term ‘poor in spirit’ is an idiom meaning to be repentant and humble. In other words, we are not to be proud, thinking we know best; but rather, we should be admitting our needs and shortcomings to God. Being poor in spirit means that we are enabled to be willing to surrender all that we have to the Lord. Jesus showed us the way when he submitted to the Lord’s will on the Cross. “For theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” Yes, it does mean we have a certainty of destiny, but, by God’s grace, Heaven can be right here and now in our heart too. “Blessed are those who mourn” – When we mourn, we are broken-hearted. We can be broken hearted after losing a loved one; but we can also be broken hearted over the state of our nation, or even our own spiritual state – if we know we are not as close to God as we ought to be. Perhaps we have lost our first joy. It is right to mourn. It shows that we care and are repentant. When we mourn, it enables us to set our eyes and our hearts on Jesus and His will. “For they shall be comforted” Who comforts? The Comforter – the Holy Spirit is the one who comforts us by God’s grace. “Blessed are the meek” – The words meek, humble and gentle do not quite sum up the full meaning. In Greek the word meek can be illustrated as being like a horse that has been broken in, where there is great power under control. We are not called to be doormats, but we are asked to not show retaliation when we are displeased. We can be assertive without being aggressive. “For they will inherit the earth” We don’t have to be pushy to get what we want in this world. We are promised the earth! God will provide all that we need by his grace, freely. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” When we do something ‘good’ it’s easy to feel proud. It’s not about seeking to do the right things, but wanting to act in the right and Godly way – in God’s will. Each of these phrases bring us back to doing and thinking in the way that Jesus would. When we seek God for his will, that is when he shows us his grace. “For they will be filled” When we look to Jesus we will be filled with his presence and his righteousness. Once again he shows us grace by coming alongside us and helping us. “Blessed are the merciful” Those who are grudging and revengeful, wanting just punishment, cannot be blessed. Here, we are being asked to show the grace to others, that God has first given to us. When in doubt, we should always err on the side of grace – forgiving others and allowing them another chance. “For they will be shown mercy” We have received grace and mercy from the Lord – we are called to show the same grace and mercy to others in return. Page 2
“Blessed are the pure in heart” - Purity is a very valuable thing. This is not just about physical sin, but about purity of heart, thought and mind. We are not to be hypocritical, deceitful or devious – pretending we are more spiritual than we are. We are not to have our heart set on sights and sounds that would tarnish our spiritual purity. But we are to be pure in heart and quick to repent; and genuinely wanting a God-like heart toward others. In other words, we should want to be more like Christ every day. “For they will see God” In his grace God promises to keep renewing us as we look to him. And when we look to him, we will see him. Read 1 Corinthians 13v12 “Blessed are the peacemakers” – Note – it says peacemakers, not peacekeepers. We can keep the peace by ‘turning a blind eye’, which could lead to all sorts of problems. But peacemakers are actively showing love and kindness, perhaps pouring oil on troubled waters, perhaps by meekly promoting Christ-righteousness. Peacemakers are those who establish unity where there is unrest. They bring the peace of Christ into inflamed situations. “For they will be called the children of God”. God’s children, brothers and sisters of Christ – how amazing is God’s grace that he should even let me be a servant, let alone adopting me into his family to share in His inheritance with the Lord Jesus Christ! “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness” - Sadly, we only have to read Christian publications such as Barnabas Trust and Open Doors, to know that thousands of our Christian brothers and sisters are being persecuted around the world. This verse is about those who suffer for the gospel of Christ. In some ways this is God’s highest calling, conforming them to Christ crucified. Jesus knows all that we go through, but we can never know all that he went through? Can we honestly say we are ready should the day of persecution come to us? “For theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” The teaching ends in the same way that it began – with a call to us to submit our all, even if it should mean persecution. But the promises are great – the Kingdom of Heaven. And God’s grace is greater. I hope you may have seen, as the Bible study progressed, how that God shows his grace to us, but we are then called to show that grace to others. Because GRACE is a sharing in the very life of God. FROM GOD ! To Others – To Ourselves – To Others ! Thanking God for his grace
______________________________________________ MARK Grace through Action In the Gospel of Matthew, we looked at the ministry and person of Jesus through his teachings. In this Gospel of Mark, we see right from the start, that Jesus was a man of action. However - busy as he was, he still took time to show compassion and grace to all he met. In this gospel, we see both the Divine nature of Jesus, in his miracles – but we also see his humanity, and the compassion that moved him to heal, feed and forgive the lost and hurting. Key verse: Mark 6:34 “When Jesus saw the crowds he had compassion on them”. Read Mark 1v40-45 – Compassion for the Suffering Note: In verse some versions, verse 41 reads, “Jesus was indignant” – but in others it reads, “Jesus was moved with compassion”. So, there seems to be an anomaly. But the text would read perfectly well with both words, “Jesus was moved with compassion and indignation at the man’s suffering” - because the man was sick and disfigured from the leprosy, but also he was an outcast in society. Here we see clearly how compassion is linked to grace. No-one else would touch a person with leprosy, because it made them ritually unclean – BUT JESUS DID. Grace knows no boundaries and makes no judgments. Page 3
We can remember the examples of Princess Diana holding the hands of HIV sufferers, and the nurses with Mother Teresa tending to the poor on the streets of Calcutta. True grace knows no boundaries. Grace does not judge people. Grace does not let us put ourselves, and sometimes our own safety, first (many have been called upon to show this grace during the Covoid-19 virus). Grace is seeing people as Jesus sees them, and acting as he would act. A lot of people in our society feel marginalised and unaccepted, maybe because of their ethnicity, religion, disability, disfigurement, low moral standards, addictions etc.etc. Q. Is there anyone you would tend to avoid? Could you consider showing them God’s grace through an act of kindness? Read Mark 6v30-44 – Compassion for the Crowds Jesus and his disciples needed food and rest, and just to be alone for a while. A boat on Lake Galilee was ideal for this. But, as the boat came to shore further round the Lake, they saw that thousands of people had left their villages to meet them. If it was you – would your heart sink at this point? ( I have to admit, mine would!) What was Jesus’ response? (Read verse 34) Why did Jesus have compassion on them? It was because they had no one to teach them or lead them correctly – even the priests and teachers of the Law were failing in their duty. He saw their spiritual need, greater than any physical need, and it evoked compassion in him. Of course, as the day went on the people grew hungry, but there were no shops because Jesus had gone to a ‘solitary place’. And so, we read in verses 39-44 how Jesus provided for them through a miracle of multiplication. They had a feast, and there was plenty left over – 12 baskets (one for each disciple to take back for their family?). GRACE – God giving us what we do not deserve – unearned blessings from his heart of compassion. Read Mark 5v21-23 and 35-43 – Compassion for families This passage is interesting because Jesus allowed his response to Jairus’ pressing need to be interrupted, while he responded to another woman in the crowd. Maybe Jairus got agitated and worried about this. Have you ever worried about a delay to an unanswered prayer? It’s a bit like when Jesus delayed his visit to Mary, Martha and Lazarus – only to find that Lazarus had died before his arrival. Jesus knew that Jairus believed. Jairus had fallen at Jesus’ feet (v22), throwing himself on God’s grace. As a synagogue leader this was a very humbling act for Jairus, by doing it he was showing faith in Jesus and a great love for his daughter. Jesus saw his heart’s cry for his child – he sees our hearts’ cry for our children too. Sometimes the answer may be a long time in coming, but Jesus does not forget, the answer is in hand. And what was the point of the delay in getting to Jairus’ daughter? It was so that Jesus could do an even greater miracle! (Same as for Lazarus) Lord, help us not to see things as they are on the surface. Help us to have a heart of love and compassion, not just for our families but for all who suffer. Help us to trust that you can and will answer our prayers in your perfect timing, so that your name will be glorified. Thank you that Jesus shows us how to live by grace. Help us to show that same grace to others. Amen Our study compels us to look at ourselves, and to consider the words in Ephesians 4v32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Footnote: Another explanation for the baskets of leftover food. In the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000, there were 12 baskets of food left, which symbolise the 12 tribes of Israel and the Jewish nation. Jesus came to be their Bread of Life, he came to bring them salvation through the Cross. In the miracle of the feeding of the 4,000 (Mark 8v1-10), there were 7 baskets of food left, which symbolise the Page 4
7 churches (Revelation chapters 2&3) and the Gentile population of people who have trusted in Jesus – The Bread of Life - for salvation. In other words, by doing the two miracles, Jesus was showing that he had come for all peoples – any who would trust in Him – another representation of his grace. The Age of Grace was ushered in at Calvary – Praise God! And our duty is to show that grace to others.
______________________________________________ LUKE Jesus shows us God’s Grace through the parables Read Luke 10v30-37 – The parable of the Good Samaritan How do we apply God’s command to “love our neighbour as ourselves”? In this parable, this is what Jesus wants us to think about – how we can show grace to others who are in need. It can be easy to read it and condemn the Priest and the Levite for their deliberate inaction. Is it always easier to condemn others than to look at ourselves, which is what Jesus wants us to do? After all, they were able to justify their actions – and I know I have been guilty of that too! (… with phrases like, “I’m too busy; I don’t have the resources; I might get my hands dirty …) By justifying ourselves and avoiding the issue, we are able to stifle compassion, mercy and grace. But the Samaritan had compassion on the wounded man (v33), he went over to him and took care of him (v34). He gave not only his time and his money, but he also showed compassion and grace. How can we apply the message of grace and compassion to our everyday lives? Think about these questions: · · · · · ·
Who is the ‘neighbour’? The person next door or a stranger? Who are the religious people? Could they be us at times? Who is the Samaritan? A charity, a church mission – or us? When we see compassion shown by non-Christians, how does it make us feel? Which words sum up the real meaning of being a good neighbour? (v 33, v 37) How does Jesus show his grace and mercy to us – all the time?
Read Luke 13v20&21 – The Parable of the Yeast Often in the Bible yeast can be likened to sin, which works away unseen. But in this little parable Jesus says that The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast. What does it mean? God grows his kingdom, not by evangelistic services, not by Bible teaching, not by our example – but by his grace, working unseen in the lives of those we pray for, and even those we don’t. So that, the leaven or yeast in this parable symbolises grace. I remember in years gone by, making ginger beer. A neighbour had made it, and passed on a little to me and others, which was just enough to start the fermentation over again. And then, before my ginger beer came to and end, I would pass some on and keep repeating the process. The yeast just kept on multiplying. The same principle applied to making yoghurt (another fad!) and Friendship Cake, which also contained yeast to be passed on. Given the right conditions, yeast will keep on multiplying and working away unseen. Such is God’s grace – and we can do our part by passing it on, and passing it on and passing it on! By showing grace we keep the conditions right for the multiplication of God’s kingdom to continue. Read Luke 15v1-7: The Lost Sheep – went astray unthinkingly The sheep represents those who have wandered away from the Lord. Perhaps they have sought pastures new and not found their way back. Does the farmer here condemn the sheep? No. He knows what sheep are like! He still loves the sheep and cares about the sheep. So much so that he seeks it out, so that He can rescue it. Notice the grace shown by the shepherd – he didn’t drive it home with a stick, but he lifted it and carried it back to the fold. What a picture of the Grace of God! In the Lake District, there is an experienced farmer and climber (seen on TV!). Whenever a sheep gets stuck on a cliff ledge or any other dangerous position, this farmer will stop everything, collect his climbing gear, and lift the sheep to a place of safety – it’s no different to 2,000 years ago. And God is no different. By his grace is still rescuing those who have gone astray. Should this not give us encouragement to keep praying for the backsliders? Page 5
Luke 15v8-10: The Lost Coin – lost because of circumstance In Bible times, the coin would be akin to our wedding ring – with the symbolism attached to it – and so it was a loved item, not just money. Whilst the lost coin symbolised those who had wandered away, the lost coin represents those who find themselves lost as a result of tragedy, or difficult circumstances. It was not the coin’s fault that it was lost. Once again, there is no condemnation here. Once again, the lost item is sought for and retrieved and valued again. Once again grace prevailed. How can we show God’s grace to those who are ‘hidden’, in a dark place, vulnerable, in need of compassion and comfort? Read Luke 15v11-24: - The Lost Son – lost through deliberate rebellion In this well-known parable, the son committed wilful rebellion by taking his inheritance while his father was still alive (hurtful!); and leaving home in pursuit of a ‘good time’. It wasn’t until he had lost everything, that he realised there was only one person he could go to, to humbly plead his cause and ask for forgiveness. The father, who represents God, is a picture of a loving God who is always watching and waiting – full of compassion and love and without condemnation. This is true grace: not giving us what we deserve, but forgiveness and a clean slate – our sins forgiven and forgotten, when we yield in repentance to his love Note: We should be careful not to call lost souls ‘prodigals’ and ‘backsliders’. Prodigal means wasteful and reckless with money. There are hundreds of reasons why people do not accept Christ’s love, or have wandered away from the fold. These last three parables show us that the Lord sees us all as ‘lost’ individuals until we have been found by him. And that by his grace, he is always watching, searching, waiting for us to return, his arm always outstretched towards us. Lord, help us to see people as you see them, to love them as you love them, and to show them your grace without condemnation. Amen
______________________________________________ JOHN The Prayer of Jesus, and The Cross John Chapter 17 Read verses 1-5: Jesus prayed for himself It perhaps seems strange that Jesus first prayed for himself; but not when we realise that his prayer was concerning God’s kingdom and God’s glory. Jesus’ purpose on earth was to show people God’s glory – the reality of God’s presence. This was the glory that he came from and was going to return to; with the purpose of enabling us to know eternal life one day in that all-consuming glory of heaven. Jesus knew that the Cross was very near, but he also knew that it would be the gateway to heaven. Read verses 6-12: Jesus prayed for his disciples It is interesting to note that God the Father, through the Holy Spirit, brings souls to Jesus for salvation (v6&7). Jesus has the role of being our Saviour because of the Cross, but he has the added role of being our mediator with God (v9). He prayed for the disciples, but he also intercedes for us. (Further reading – Hebrews chapter 8) Jesus prayed 2 things for his disciples: For Protection and Unity (v11) Read verses 13-19: Jesus knew what was ahead Jesus was saying this prayer when he did (apparently with his disciples listening), because, in his grace, he wanted to flood them with his joy (see verse 13) – a “full measure”. Why? Verse 14 tells us how they would be hated – as many Christians around the world are hated and persecuted in our day. The only antidote to negativity is the joy of the Lord. They would need the deep joy of Jesus to help them overcome, and to help them to “keep on keeping on” in the tough times. It is the joy that comes as the result of God’s presence and glory living in our hearts and souls. It is a wonderful gift of grace that enables us to withstand, and to stand, in the hard times. Page 6
It was this same joy that enabled Jesus to endure the Cross and be triumphant. Heb 12v2: For the joy that was set before him, Jesus endured the Cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Read verses 20-23 – Jesus prayed for all believers, including US In his grace, our Lord Jesus Christ payed for us to! And he prayed the same blessings for us as he did for his disciples: unity and Protection. Colossians 3v3 (my favourite verse) says: Your life is hidden with Christ in God. All of us are hidden in him, together, in unity – a unity which should spill out into our work and worship. But, Jesus’ prayer is also that we should show it to the world (read verse 23). Our purpose is to show Jesus to the world, but we are not alone – we have Jesus and we have each other. Read verses 24-26 – What Jesus wants for us In his grace Jesus actually wants to share his glory with us – the glory that was there before the world began and is perpetually there in heaven (verses 5 and 24). And he wants us to share it with others, “in order that the love you have for Me may be in them, and that I myself may be in them” (v.26). Isn’t it amazing? Jesus knew he still had to face the Cross, but he had us in mind! The Grace of The Cross Grace is: · God choosing to bless us rather than punish us, because of the sacrificial death of Jesus · God’s love for all who seek Him, without exception · God’s love reaching out to all – good and bad · Forgiveness for all who truly repent, whatever their sin · God making a sacrifice in Jesus John 15v13: No greater love is there than this, that a man should lay down his life for his friends. Read John 21v15-17 One of the most caring demonstrations of the Grace of Jesus is when he reinstates the apostle Peter, after his failure to acknowledge Jesus. Grace is there for us, even when we fail, when we feel down, when we feel like giving up. And when Jesus shows us his grace, all he asks is that we share that grace with others, “Feed my sheep”. He just wants us to live in the grace that he first gives us.
The Estuary Elim Group of Churches are three Essex based Elim Pentecostal Churches in Ashingdon, Rayleigh and Southend on Sea with a shared Leadership team. We are a group of people responding to the love of God and the life changing message of Jesus Christ. Our services are lively with contemporary music, worship and preaching and teaching relevant to the 21st Century. To find out more about us visit www.estuaryelim.church Whether you are new to church, someone with questions or a committed Christian, we want to serve you and help you discover and fulfil Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s purpose for your life. If you would like an opportunity to email or talk to one of the team email your contact details to email@example.com and we will get back to you. The Ashingdon, Rayleigh and Southend Elim Pentecostal Churches are branches of The Elim Foursquare Gospel Alliance (Registered Charity No. 251549)